Psalm 119:82 - My eyes fail, looking for your promise; I say, "When will you comfort me?"
You’ve just heard some bad news about your health. How could the doctors have not known that you were developing a life-threatening disease? What about all of the regular blood tests and exams? Did the doctor hurry through your visits thus passing over irregularities? But however you got to this point, you’re here. It’s really happening. So what are our reactions to this kind of news? In public we put on a good face and say that it’s going to be okay. But in the quiet moments when you’re alone, you may find yourself screaming out loud, “This isn’t fair! I can’t do this! Why do I have to do this?” Your friends may look at you and feel proud at how you’re fairing and holding up under this terrible burden. Do you tell them what’s really going on? Did you know that it’s possible to do both? You don’t have to muster up a good face when in public, because you can still be screaming inside and be at peace. It doesn’t make much sense, I know, but it is possible to be at peace with something terrible when you know you have God’s arms encircled around you bringing you the comfort you need, and helping you believe that there can be a turn around.
Galatians 6:2 - Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
One of the synonyms for anxiety is “care.” It implies oppression of the mind weighed down by responsibility or disquieted by apprehension. Some people deal with their anxiety by walking around with a chip on their shoulders just waiting to lash out at the next person who crosses their path. Others, like myself, carry around a different kind of weight – the “weight of the world” on my shoulders. I feel it’s my job to try to fix all the problems around me. Anxiety rises within and weighs down my heart. But there is a way to lift that weight – kind words. It doesn’t take much to lift that chip off someone’s shoulders, or to set the anxiety free. It just takes someone who will stop what they’re doing, smile, and cheer us up with a few kind words and bring us hope. There may feel like there’s no hope when we’re filled with anxiety, but when someone sits down with you, places their hand on yours, looks into your eyes and says, “I know this is tough. But we can get through this together.” It can wipe away our concerns. Can you be that person today? Can you be the one to say a few kind words? Don’t think of it as a difficult task to do. You may worry you’ll say the wrong thing. But God can give you the words you need and the strength to say them. Make a difference in someone’s life today and help to lift off their burdens.
Exodus 18:17-18 - Moses' father-in-law replied, "What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone."
When Christmas comes upon us, all of the shopping and cooking can feel like a giant wave catching up with us, and washing us into a storm of activities. This can be challenging even if you are healthy, but if you battle a chronic health condition it can quickly exhaust you. So you set a magic hat in front of you and reach inside to find reasons why you can’t do these things even though other people think you’re just making excuses. Your, “No,” is unacceptable to them. After all, Christmas only happens once a year. So you change your clothes, put on a happy face and head out the door to go shopping or attend a party. But what’s the result? Your chronic illness takes stage front and everyone sees you sinking into a couch with pain written across your face. There has to be a better way. How do you enjoy Christmas when you aren’t well? During the Christmas season we can all find ourselves swept up into the waves of all the things that “need” to be done. But that’s not healthy for anyone, especially for those with chronic health conditions. Don’t be afraid to say no to the many activities available and don’t be afraid to ask for help, like Moses’ father-in-law suggested in the Bible verse above. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy the season instead of dreading it.
Luke 12:7 - Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Do you ever feel like people around you are trying to beat you down into submission either physically or emotionally? Are they so set in their ways and feel justified in their actions that they strike out at you every chance they can get? This is no way to live, either for the one being beaten or the one taking their pain out on someone else. You’re worth so much more than that. You can be strong and let yourself out of the cage that others have pushed you into. Be your own person. But also realize that you sometimes need someone to point you in the right direction without hurting you. They are like the shepherds in our lives. A shepherd never beats his sheep into submission. He taps them on the side to move them in the direction they need to go, or they raise their staff in the air as the shepherd himself guides the sheep to greener pastures. Jesus is our great Shepherd. He will gently lead us and he can steer us away from those who believe beating someone down is the only way to get them to do what they want.
2 Corinthians 10:5 - We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
In the beginning there was a thought. It wasn’t much really. Just thinking about what someone said to you that you thought was hurtful. All day you tried to push that thought away, but it kept knocking at your door. Pretty soon a friend called and you told her about that thought. Then a few days passed and someone else said something to you that you thought was hurtful. This time you skipped past talking to a friend about it. You took that thought and tied it around your neck, as if it were a necklace, with the two hurtful thoughts hanging down the front. Pretty soon you had so many hurtful thoughts attached to the necklace around your neck that it stopped being a piece of jewelry and it became a chain pulling you down. Pick up the key of taking your thoughts captive to Christ. He will help you take down those hurtful thoughts and help you forgive those who hurt you. Then you’ll be able to lift up your head and be free from what used to burden you. But be careful. It’s easy to hang hurtful thoughts around your neck again.
Hebrews 12:1 - Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
To walk forward and live life to the fullest we need to cut down the weeds around our ankles. Someone criticized you and dandelions started popping up around you. Someone said bad things about you to one of your friends and thorny leaves begin to collect on your socks and pants. Then you said something that you didn’t mean to and hurt someone else, and you watched as weeds began to grow between their toes and ankles. You wish you hadn’t said what hurt your friend, and like the long arms of an octopus, you find yourself being pulled down beneath the sea. Did you know that the stress and regrets we hold inside today can prevent us from enjoying the future God has for us tomorrow? The moment weeds begin to take hold of your ankles, drop to your knees and ask God for his forgiveness and for help to free yourself from what trips you up. And my friend, he will do it.
Isaiah 35:3 - Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way.
Life can be hard especially for those who are suffering from a chronic health condition. But with a little effort from those who are healthy, we will leave no one behind. We can be the ones to strengthen the feeble and unsteady, and lift the burden off another soul. We have tools in our toolbox that we can use such as a wrench in the form of a phone call to check in on a friend, a screwdriver in the form of a card to encourage your friend to keep going, a hammer in the form of a DVD taken to a friend in pain to help them forget their sorrows, a saw in the form of offering to babysit a friend’s kids so they can take a nap or a handful of nails in the form of stopping by to visit with your friend who just needs someone to be there and listen. God can point us in the right direction, with the right tool to lift the burden of a housebound individual.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 - We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
We’ve all watched movies where the hero is blindfolded, thrown into the trunk of a car, driven out into the middle of the wilderness and dumped on the side of the road. Alone. Left to die. No hope in sight. No one knows where you are. How will you ever be able to break free and find your way home? Life can feel like we are that hero dumped on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. We don’t know where we are anymore. The rules have changed. We’re alone. We feel abandoned. What do we do now? Some people simply close in on themselves and curl up in a ball and don’t even try to escape. It’s easier that way than trying to muster up the courage to tell someone we feel abandoned. But is it easier that way? I don’t think so. It’s only in reaching out that we can find hope again. Yes, we are risking being turned down and still feel abandoned, but you may find someone who really cares if you reach out. God, also, will never abandon you. He knows you’re in the trunk of that car and can lift you up and place you in the midst of people who really do care.
Psalm 41:9 - Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me.
Life is hard. It whispers thoughts of inadequacy. It shows you dark places you don’t want to walk in. It reveals what’s in the heart. It leaves you in a pile of broken pieces at your feet. You see, just as you think life is done hurting you, the most painful thing of all happens – Your loved one hates you. This pain can be even more deeply felt than when you lose a loved one in death. That statement is going to make some people angry with me, but when you stand in the face of spoiled fruit ready to turn into rancid words and actions; you’ll know what I mean. And, while all the time you don’t have a clue of what you’ve done to make your loved one hate you. Is there anything we can do to stop our loved one from hating us? Aren’t our tears enough? Aren’t our efforts to make amends enough? Where did we go so wrong? We must take the high road and not turn on them and throw insults their way. It is God we can depend on. God can be our comfort. He is our ultimate loved one and will never speak unkindly about us or become our enemy. Trust that love and maybe someday, you’ll find your loved one walking towards you with open arms.
Proverbs 18:24 - One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Friendship grows in a natural course. Recently you met someone and you wonder if they could be your new best friend. But, inevitably you disagree with your new friend about a subject. You brush it aside feeling that everyone has disagreements. But it doesn’t stop. You try to see both sides of the situation but no matter what you say; the relationship falls apart. It’s sad to lose someone who you thought you were getting close to. But each of us is capable of picking up an offense and running with it. So now what? Sometimes the “what” becomes standing aloof and keeping conversations short. Your heart is hurting, so you close the door for anyone to be close to you again. That’s not how life was meant to be lived. We are social people and naturally crave to be with others. But how do we move beyond lost friendships and open up our hearts again? Only in God’s strength and wisdom. He knows how long a friendship will last. Some are meant to last a lifetime, but some just don’t work out. Try not to dwell on that. Try to remember that even if you lose a friend, you still can pour your life into another’s and find that new best friend.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.